If you are among those who would love to help a paralyzed victim learn to walk again, or an injured sportsperson achieve his peak performance again, then becoming Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) is the perfect answer for your ambition. Physical therapy assistants play crucial roles in supporting physical therapists in rehabilitation of patients. They may work with accident victims, injured sports-persons, and patients who suffer from arthritis, burns, or strokes. In addition to job satisfaction, PTAs earn an average salary of $46,140 (as per Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Most of the jobs for physical therapist assistants are located in hospitals, sports facilities, offices of health practitioners, nursing homes, rehab centers, and mental health clinics. It is expected that the jobs in this field will grow much faster than other fields. Clinics all across the country that offer physical therapy services to patients have at least one or two PTAs on board. Due to this, a large number of jobs are available all across the country and are expected to increase in coming years. An estimate of 21,000 more jobs will be produced in this field by 2018.
WHAT IS THE JOB DESCRIPTION OF A PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT ?
- As a PTA, one is supposed to work along with physical therapists(PT) in helping patients recover from mobility issues. They always work under the supervision of a physiotherapist .
- They conduct exercises and massages on patients as per the injury to help patients in recovery or to reduce pain.
- This job requires the assistants to be physically fit, as they might have to lift patients. Sometimes they have to bend, stand, kneel and stoop for long periods of time. They may even have to put supporting devices like crutches, leg braces, etc on a patient.
- Assistants have to work according to instructions received from the physical therapist and perform tasks such as conducting ultrasounds and providing electric stimulation, paraffin baths, hydrotherapy, etc.
- Assistants may also be required to do office work at times .
- In daily life, PTAs come across people who are in great pain. They must have good communication skills and the ability to calm down patients .
- Options are also available for PTAs to work in shift jobs. This means that the assistant has the liberty to work early morning hours and a few hours in evening .
- Contractual jobs are also available in which the assistant can move to a new place for a few weeks as per contract. On expiry of contract, he or she can move back to his or her local job .
WHAT IS THE SALARY OF A PHYSICAL THERAPIST ASSISTANT ?
The average salary of a physical therapy assistant is $46,140. The salary varies as per the experience and skill of assistant. For fresh graduates, the salary will be around $18 per hour. Annually, this will lead to $35,000 (excluding taxes). As the experience grows to four years, hourly income will become $24, and after nine years, $26 per hour. These incomes annually become $50,000 and $55,000, respectively. The physical therapy assistant salary is lower than that of a physical therapist, but higher than that of a physical therapy aide .
In order to increase salary without changing workplace, one must continue to update his qualifications in schools. This will help the PTA to earn more healthcare certifications, thereby increasing his value to an employer. For example, getting a CPR certification can help an assistant to increase his or her salary to $22 per hour. Similarly, obtaining an athletic training certification might raise hourly income to $20 and a basic life support certification can raise salary to $24 per hour.
Across different regions in United States, there are different salary scales for physical therapy assistants. These scales are dependent on different factors: experience, expertise, type of employer, and location .
Salary Scale on basis of Job location :
|Virginia||$ 40,000 to $60,000|
|Pennsylvania||$33,000 to $48,000|
|New york||$33,000 to $46,000|
|Florida||$38,000 to $55,000|
|Texas||$40,000 to $59,000|
Among the states, Virginia and Texas pay the highest amount of salary. While New york and Pennsylvania are among the states that pay least amount of salary to PT assistants. It is important to note that these figures may vary depending upon the skill and experience of assistant .
Salary Scale on basis of work experience :
|Years of work experience||Salary Range|
|0 to 1 years||$30,000 to $40,000|
|1 to 4 years||$33,000 to $45,000|
|4 to 10 years||$38,000 to $51,000|
|10 to 19 years||$40,000 to $58,000|
|20 years and more||$42,000 to $65,000|
With increase in the work experience of assistant, the salary also increases. A fresh graduate from school may earn between $30,000 to $40,000 per year. After one year, the assistant may start earning minimum of $33,000 per year. After a period of nine years, the income may be close to $50,000 per year. A PT assistant can earn $60,000 annually after spending twenty years in service .
Salary Scale on basis of type of employer :
|Employer Type||Salary Range|
|Schools||$25,000 to $40,000|
|Government/Local||$42,000 to $58,000|
|Contract||$42,000 to $70,000|
|Hospital||$34,000 to $48,000|
|Physician||$30,000 to $44,000|
The salary of also varies according to the type of employer. The highest physical therapy assistant salary is $60,000 annually and this amount is usually received while working at home-health service facilities. While working at nursing facilities or hospitals assistants receive second highest salary of $47,000 annually. Income is lowest while working in schools or at physician’s office and is close to $30,000 annually .
HOW CAN I BECOME A PHYSICAL THERAPY ASSISTANT ?
In order to become a PT assistant, one is required to complete a program from a recognized college. The program can also be completed online. There are 223 accredited programs, which take around 2 years to complete. Subject like biology, chemistry, anatomy and psychology are present in course work . In addition, courses also include kinesiology, neurological concepts, orthopedics, and pediatrics. A student will also have to complete an internship before obtaining an Associate’s Degree .
In many states, it is necessary for a physiotherapist assistant to have a license. After completing the Associate’s program, a physiotherapist assistant must obtain a license. For this they have to pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE). The license often has to be renewed with additional educational requirements.
WHAT ARE THE FUTURE PROSPECTS IN THIS FIELD ?
An assistant to physiotherapist is a promising career field, as a large number of jobs are available throughout the country. With a growing and aging population, the number of jobs is likely to increase. Every year 3,500 jobs are produced, and by 2018, it is expected that 84,000 jobs will be present in this field.
Elderly people are vulnerable to chronic and debilitating conditions which require therapy treatments. These treatments make presence of assistants and aides necessary. Furthermore, steps are being taken by healthcare industries to reduce the cost of treatments. Under this, the PT evaluates and makes a plan for treating patients and then directs his assistant to carry out parts of the treatment. Almost all PT are employing assistants for treatments of patients, thus increasing their demand .
As a physical therapist assistant you will experience satisfaction of seeing the improvement in health of patients because of your hard work. Just like Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”